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Archive for May, 2012

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Carly Rae Jepsen reference anyone? We’ve been listening to the top 40 radio stations while tiling, and they play that song at least once an hour.

Speaking of tiling, if you follow Andrew on twitter (@AndrewCannarsa), you may already know that last night was a late one for us. We have overnight guests coming ON JUNE 9TH – hello, hard deadline – so we’ve stepped it up and are aggressively trying to get this bathroom pieced back together. Last night’s goal was to lay the last of the floor tile, and I’m proud to say “SUCCESS!”

We had 99% of the floor tiled by yesterday, but all the edge pieces and the pieces around the hole for the toilet (is there a succinct term for this?) were killer. Killer. Whatevs floor tile; victory is ours. So what if we had to bring the wet saw into the kitchen so the rest of the neighborhood could sleep at 11:00 at night? Wall tile, you’re next.

Seriously, let’s get this project moving so we can clean up the rest of the house, too. There’s a vanity cabinet in our master bedroom, a toilet on our back porch, a vanity top and sink occupying my car, a shop vac in our smallest bedroom (aka my dressing room), and tools… everywhere.

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Bathroom Day Ten: Recap

Quick pic:

Not bad, huh?

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Leaps and Bounds

What a difference two days makes. There are so many exciting bathroom milestones, I don’t even know where to start. I guess we’ll start with the color conundrum.

You’ll recall we were trying to pull inspiration from our new shower curtain:

Landed on bright sky blue:

And hated it. Susiemommy was here on Thursday, and the three of us were discussing it. She pointed out that blue paint can reflect harshly on a lot of skin tones. I don’t know if that’s true, but let’s just go with it. The she said “What about a peach or pink?” and I said, “Ew, fleshy.” Then Andrew said “Terra cotta!” (or something… probably not actually “terra cotta” because that doesn’t seem like a color he would describe) and I said, “Ugh, no.” Then, unprompted by me, Susiemommy suggested gray, and I beamed. Andrew had suggested gray in a separate conversation, so I felt like I now had permission to embrace my neutral-loving sensibilities.

Even gray is tough. The gray in our bedroom goes blue a lot of the time. Fortunately I had just read this blog post by Emily Henderson, listing her favorite grays. We went with Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl – without even testing it. I was swayed by Emily’s sales pitch: “this gray can do no wrong. Ever.”

First coat is on the walls.

It came out looking very putty-ish and has kind of a greenish tint. I’m not declaring love or hate until the room is done.

Guess what happened yesterday? Two big things. The window wall is tiled TOP TO TAIL.

And. (drumroll please).

We’ve started to lay the floor.

When I say “we,” I mean Andrew and his dad. I helped pick the exact layout, but then I cleared out for the most part. This marble was not cheap, and the installation was giving me heart palpitations, so better that I was not that involved. Especially when Mike (Andrew’s dad) laid the first square foot of mosaic and his reaction was “uh oh.” “Uh oh”!?!?!? The adhesive squished up between the tiles just a smidge, and immediately started to discolor the marble. We pulled up that portion, and I whisked it away to perform surgery, aka wash the evil thinset off. At that point, I wanted to halt the whole production, but I let the boys do their thing and figure it out. I THINK it’s all going to work out. Fingers (toes, eyes, legs, etc.) crossed. I would pretty much be devastated if this marble doesn’t turn out well. Okay, life would go on, but I might cry a little first.

There were a few spots where the stone seemed to be looking cloudier than it was, but the word on the street is that the porous marble sucks up some of the moisture from the thinset, releasing it (and returning to its initial coloring) later as it dries.

We can’t walk on the flooring for 24-36 hours, so work is halted for now.

No doggies allowed either.


Sorry Widge.

One more note about the marble, and then I promise we can move on. When I placed the tile order for the marble mosaic and the ceramic subway, the saleswoman sold me two bags of grout. Both are bright white, but one is sanded and one is unsanded. Sanded grout is more durable, but 1/16″ grout lines call for unsanded grout. So at the point of sale, when the saleswoman at Avalon was explaining this to me, I went ahead and ordered one bag of each: unsanded for the walls, sanded for the slightly larger grout lines in the floor.

Later research revealed NO! WRONG! SO STUPID! That sanded grout can scratch soft marble. Since we’ll be picking up a new batch of grout, Andrew and I have been considering a color other than white for the floor. Maybe a soft gray. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion to this discussion.

Andrew’s dad was here yesterday to help in the bathroom, but my parents and Aunt Maryann also came down to help out. They spent all day working on the outside of our house. So nice and generous when they have their own houses to maintain! Let me show you my favorite thing that my dad did. There’s a sidewalk that starts just beyond our house, and it’s typically the way we go to walk Widget. Yay for sidewalk, boo for boobie-trapped sidewalk. This big holly tree has a couple of nasty, prickly branches ready to scratch the ish out of our face if you’re not paying attention, right where the sidewalk begins.

My dad is a holly-pruning/removing and weeding pro, so here’s what that patch looks like now:

Wha…? Crazy, I know. It looks like an actual bit of landscaping now. We’re not 100% sure this is even considered “our” property (might be the neighbors’ or public property), but I think the entire neighborhood will thank my dad for nixing that scratchy bugger.

It’s hard to say what my favorite project of Susiemommy’s was, but it might be this:

Yup, after a long hard day of work, she fed us all.

It was a productive day, but now we have to wait to walk on our bathroom floor before we can continue. The mandated wait time might be a blessing in disguise. Andrew and I can try to clean and organize our disaster of a house, finish up some yard projects, and oh yeah, we have a wedding to go to tonight. It’s going to take me even longer than normal to get beautiful (how do I disguise legs covered in bruises?). In the meantime, a little before & in-progress? I think so.

Or did you want to go way back to the REAL before? Okay.

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Let’s Talk Tile

Phew, tiling takes a while, but we’re excited because yesterday we finally got above the window! And all the way down to the tub! It’s all about the small victories.

There was nothing above the window to support the tiles while the thinset dries, hence the blue tape. In theory, we should be able to remove the tape today and build off that row to tile the rest of the way up.

The toughest part of rotating to the next wall – this guy (absent of architectural features, YES):

was affixing the board that would support the first row of tiles. The trick is to keep the board perfectly level AND perfectly lined up with the existing row of tiles on the other wall WHILE trying to drill into cement board. Not easy, but we got it after four or five frustrating tries.

Then I just had to work up the energy to start tiling again. You know what helps with that? Chocolate. And look at the inspiring message I found in my Dove:

It totally gave me the boost to go at that new wall with gusto. Working with so many full tiles is suuuuch a luxury. It all goes so much faster.

I thought I’d show you guys my tiling tools. We already talked about Andrew working with the tile saw, but here’s what I’ve been spending my time with:

Pre-mixed thinset has saved us a lot of time. We bought the big bucket, so I’ve been portioning it into a smaller bucket to work with and sealing up the bucket in the meantime so it won’t dry out. Makes a good seat too.

I’ve been using the notched trowel and the putty knife simultaneously. This was a trick offered up by Andrew’s dad, and I love it. I can use each tool to scrape the other off and keep everything nice and tidy. I’m like Edward Scrapy-hands.

The tiny screwdriver and the paper towels help keep the grout lines and the faces of the tile clean of thinset, while the level and the measuring tape let me check that everything’s lining up nicely.

Tiling has involved a lot of laying out and planning. Just when I thought we had made all the decisions, we had to figure out what the corners would look like. What you want is for the cut tiles to look like you used the remainder to continue around the corner. Like you bent it. Ours didn’t end up being perfect halves, but we did our best.

Now I’m off to walk Widget and get back to tiling. Andrew’s working on a freelance article this morning, so by the time he’s done, I’m hopefully going to have a lot of tile cuts for him to make.

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Bathroom Day Five: Recap

I feel like I should be coming up with blog post titles that are more clever. Like “Bathroom Day Five: Tile.” Not like that’s clever, but at least it’s a little more descriptive… I fear, though, that it would be “Day # whatever: Tile… Again” for the next week or so! Tiling, it turns out, takes a while. But we’ve started, and that’s what’s most important:

We sort of thought that having a window would save us time because it was square footage that we wouldn’t have to tile. We were so naive. In reality, the window just causes us to have about a million more cuts.

Despite the window, we were getting into a pretty good groove: I would alternate sides, working wherever I could lay full tiles while Andrew came in to take measurements, went out to the screened-in porch to make the cuts, and then delivered those tiles to me to install. I thought I was getting the easy job, but I couldn’t keep up with how quickly Andrew was bringing me cut tiles. If I wasn’t so obsessed with our grout lines, I probably could have worked faster, but I couldn’t resist checking the vertical lines with the level every two minutes to make sure I was in line with previous rows. I also was keen on keeping the lines cleaned out before the thinset dried, so I was constantly scraping them out with a tiny screwdriver.

Check out Andrew checking out his tile cuts:

Do you like his scruffy stubble? I do – very rugged – but he shaved it off today.

In other news, check out our paint color (ignore the brown part – that’s getting tiled):

It’s called “Bluebelle” by Benjamin Moore, and don’t you love it?? No? Us either. On my computer screen, it’s looking kind of periwinkle, but in real life it’s bright sky blue. Sort of like a little boy’s room might be. So I did some cut-ins, and then I asked Andrew, “Are we sure about this paint color…? I mean, my initial reaction is not ‘OMG I love it!'” He’s a good husband, so he was trying to come up with good solutions, but I just don’t know.

Guys. I’m getting really frustrated about picking a paint color. We just can’t seem to pinpoint what it is we want. I mean, if I had my way, there’d be nothing in our house that wasn’t white, gray, or brown, but I’m trying REALLY HARD to embrace real colors.

We’ve ruled out three:

Left to right, they are Palladian Blue (too drab), Peacock Blue (too dark? just not right) and the aforementioned Bluebelle. So three down, infinity to go.

Maybe blue is wrong altogether. Maybe I need therapy to break my addiction to non-color. I’m waiting for inspiration to strike, but the thing is, we really want to paint before we do all the tiling. Open to suggestions. Remember that our shower curtain is green and white.

Actually, how’s this for inspiration?

A color named after me? That has to be more than a coincidence.

In summary, painting is on hold and tiling takes a long time. But have you realized that I was pretty spot-on with our timeline? Wednesday was the day we were supposed to start tiling! I’m counting it as a win.

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Bathroom Day Four: Recap

It’s day four, and I had to double-check that because they’re already running together. In fact, Andrew was explaining something the plumbers said/did to his dad (who is back to help! tomorrow too!) and was like, “the other day… Katie, what day was that?” and I was like, “that was yesterday.” So yeah, we’re learning that in the midst of a reno, the days can start to become blurry.

We’re also learning that things take a long time. We figured they would, but man, do they. Today, the cement board went up, and here’s the inaugural piece:

That piece went up, got screwed into the studs… and then it came down. After we were done celebrating the install of that first piece, we realized it was overhanging one side of the tub flange. It’s supposed to sit on top of the flange or else it bows out, ruining any later tile installation on top of it. So all the screws came back out. Womp womp. It’ll be worth it in the end not to take any shortcuts, but in the moment, shortcuts sure are tempting!

Andrew’s dad is pretty much a pro with cement board. The plumber had told us to get the holes for the plumbing as tight as possible.

I don’t think you can get much tighter. That picture looks weird. Moving on…

While a lot of this cement board finagling was happening, I went to Classic Granite & Marble in Jessup to pick up our vanity top and have the holes drilled for our faucet. I love CGM. I wish I could go hang out there for no reason; the people are so nice, they have a huge TV and a Keurig in the lounge area, and they have all kinds of stone eye candy (counters and edge options and quartz in a million colors). And they have a foosball table, which I couldn’t use today because it’s a little hard to play foosball solo, but Andrew did play me the last time we were there. I love foosball.

Can I just say how much better CGM is than Home Depot and Ferguson and pretty much every other place we’ve had to go for this project? When I couldn’t find the perfect vanity top online, I naively thought we could order a custom one from Home Depot. However, when we got there, the woman working in the kitchen/bath area told us we were the first people to ever ask for a 19-inch deep carrara marble vanity top and that a custom order like that would require a $1000 minimum. She was none too polite about it, either. In fact, she kind of made us feel like idiots. Despite kind of wanting to punch her, I would consider it a blessing in disguise because she was actually the one who directed us to CGM.

They had us browse and select our own slab of natural stone (just like in the design shows!), let us pick our choice of edge finish, attached an undermount sink, and drilled the faucet holes to fit whatever we bought – all for around the same price as what I had estimated Home Depot would charge. I figured at HD we would get a lower quality marble, whatever edge they decided we wanted, and we’d have to tell them how to drill the holes for the faucet upon ordering; I figured (based on their 22-inch depth similar vanity top) that we’d pay a little less than $400 for it. In contrast, the ultra-custom top from CGM was a little over $400. And I’d choose them every time. The top I picked up today is BEAUTIFUL. I can’t wait to install it. You’ll have to wait on the picture though… sorry to be such a tease, but I didn’t take one before loading it into the car, and it’s currently residing in my back seat.

Rant over.

Here’s the bathroom at the end of today:

Here’s Andrew applying thinset to the seams; he’s under the close scrutiny of his dad, aka our general contractor:

Tomorrow: tiling begins.

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Bathroom Day Three: Recap

Notice anything?

If you’ve been following along, you probably notice many things:

1. Duh. There’s a bathtub where there previously was no bathtub.

2. Can it be…? Yes, Andrew scraped the last bit of black paint from the window glass. We’re still working on the vinyl parts, but a spray bottle of latex paint remover seems promising.

3. Something seems to be going on with the shower plumbing. To be honest, I don’t know what the white knobby thing is, but it comes off at some point in the future. I think. The plumber just said to cut the cement board around it. Either way, we have… “rough-ins”? Places for our showerhead and tub spout and water controls to go.

4. Floor tiles = gone.

5. Toilet = gone.

6. Vanity = gone.

Let me give you a better view of those last three observations:

The plumbers took out the toilet for us, but team Kandrew (Katdrew? Antie? I’ll work more on this) handled the vanity, and team co-captain Andrew removed the remaining floor tiles. The vanity wasn’t too tricky after I got a briefer from the plumber: release the trap (the u-shaped part) in the pipe under the sink, unscrew the water supply thingies, pry the top apart from the cabinet, unscrew the cabinet from the wall, and voila. Other tasks were finishing the paint-from-window-glass removal (check! happy dance!) and chipping away at that dried tile cement on the floor (almost check).

A brief note about the floor. Tricia called this morning to tell me that Tom (her soon-to-be hubs) had used a self-leveling compound in their bathroom reno and he had been pleased with the results. Sweet! In my on-going research… seriously, my research never ends… In my ongoing research, I asked the plumber what he would recommend. He sided with Andrew’s dad and said we could just chip away at the most gnarly cement patches until the floor was mostly clean. Ugh. How I wish everyone just said to use the compound. Using that chisel and sledgehammer turns me into Quasimoto. But. The plumber made the point that the compound would have to be even with the highest point of the leftover floor gunk, and then the tile would be going on top of that, and then we’d have to trim the bottom of the door to clear the bathroom floor and it wouldn’t be level with the rest of the house… I don’t know. I’m on the fence, but I did go ahead and continue working that chisel. Proof:

We had hoped to hang our 4 mil poly moisture barrier today and even put the first coat of paint on the walls, but somehow the day ran out before the to-do list did. I did buy the paint and some rollers, since we seemed to be out, so hopefully by the time we’re at the painting stage, we won’t need to drive to Home Depot. What am I saying? Of course we’ll have to drive to Home Depot. There’s always something we need from Home Depot.

Oh, the tub we went with was the American Standard Americast, mentioned here. The Cambridge model. And after it was installed, I made Andrew mime showering in there. Totes adorbs.

Shall we do a little before/progress action to save on scrolling? I think we shall.

There’s no turning back now. I guess I could have said that on Saturday, once the shower was rendered useless by the electric saw. Probably best just to forge ahead.

P.S. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about Andrew and my bathing. And to those people I say, “Mind your own beeswax!” JK. But seriously folks, our only full bath is out of commission, so it’s a valid question. Please rest assured that we are both members in good standing at our local YMCA, and they have fully functional shower facilities at our disposal. The women’s locker room even has a sauna! Methinks that might be a good place to hide for a little while if I need to escape the chaos of a home reno.

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